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PWSA Meet and Greet: Dewitt King

What is your area of study/research?

I am an interdisciplinary scholar whose major field of study includes Geography, Black Studies, and Cultural Studies. Broadly, I am interested in understanding the way space and place shape knowledge production, the relationship between cultural production and the political economy, and I have a growing interest in the politics of time.

In particular, I am interested in thinking about the way Black knowledge is constructed, articulated, and disseminated in various places and spaces at various scales i.e., micro spaces (locker room), social media (Twitter), and the region (Southeastern US). Currently, I am a PhD student at the University of Minnesota writing my dissertation.

What led to your interest in pro wrestling and how do you approach pro wrestling from your scholarly discipline/field?

My interest in pro wrestling originated when I was a child. I feel in love with it immediately and began watching it when I was 6 years old. In fact, I loved pro wrestling so much that I trained to become a pro wrestler during my senior year of high school. I was an independent wrestler for 2 years before I decided to focus on college. And no, I don’t have any pictures to share, lol.

My approach to pro wrestling is reflected in my training as a critical social scientist. I am interested in thinking about the structures that underpin this industry. I am very focused on connecting the cultural production of pro wrestling to its political economy. I am interested in the way power relationships in pro wrestling are shaped by difference (race/gender/sexuality, etc.).

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Image provided by Dewitt King

Are you currently working on any pro wrestling scholarship/research/public scholarship/media? If so, please tell us about it!

Currently, I am writing a lot about pro wrestling. In addition to writing a dissertation about pro wrestling, I am also writing a few articles.  My dissertation examines labor precarity in pro wrestling through the experiences of Black pro wrestlers. One article that I am working on that should be coming out in the near future looks at the ways Black pro wrestling fandom interacts with Black pro wrestlers on Twitter.

Do you bring pro wrestling into any of the classes you teach? How do you find it is received or taken up?

As of yet, I have not incorporated pro wrestling into my teaching. While I have mentioned that I study sports to the students that I have taught, I have not worked pro wrestling into my pedagogy in any substantial way. Typically, I have only used my work on boxing in the classroom.

However, I do hope to teach a pro-wrestling-centric class in the near future. The course I envision uses pro wrestling to grapple with concepts such as race/racialization/racism, gender, sexuality, nationalism, coloniality, workers’ rights, etc. This is a course that I have been thinking about for a while and I hope it comes to fruition soon. Fingers crossed!!!

What is a piece of pro wrestling scholarship that has been generative for you and that you recommend PWSA members read?

I think that everyone should read Eero Laine’s book Professional Wrestling and the Commercial Stage. This is a well written book that really contextualizes the way labor functions in an industry that is caught between the physicality of sports and the spectacle of the theater. 

Additionally, I want to plug media scholar’s Jennifer McClearen’s book Fighting Visibility as I read it alongside Laine’s book. This text examines the precarious labor of female UFC fighters.  Both books resonate with my dissertation project and really helped me think critically about laboring bodies, precarity, and how labor functions in combat sports.

Where might people reach you if they would like to know more about your research?

I can be reached on Twitter at @The_DL_King.

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